London, 16 Rabi’ul Akhir 1434/ 26 February 2013 (MINA) – The new US Secretary of State John Kerry, on a visit to London, has said Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad “must go”, according to KUNA reports monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA), Tuesday morning.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague said, at a joint news conference here with US Secretary of State John Kerry following their talks today, the UK was preparing to “significantly increase” its support for Syria’s opposition.
Earlier Kerry met UK Prime Minister David Cameron, as part of his first trip abroad as US secretary of state. Kerry, who succeeded Hillary Clinton, is on an 11-day tour of Europe and the Middle East.
“The Assad regime has rained down rockets on the people of Aleppo” in the last few days and he condemned the “indiscriminate killing of civilians”, said Kerry, who was speaking at the Foreign Office alongside Hague.
In Berlin on Tuesday (26/2) Kerry will meet Syrian opposition members and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
He urged the Syrian opposition to attend a conference in Rome on Thursday and said: “The Syrian people want results from that conference”.
For his part, Hague said 70,000 people had been killed and he was “frustrated” at the lack of an international political solution, despite efforts at the UN.
Kerry said Britain and the US remained implacably opposed to the prospect of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. He said: “An Iran with a nuclear weapon is simply unacceptable.”
The challenges posed by fragile states around the world
A Downing Street spokesman said Cameron and Kerry “reiterated their shared determination to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran” and discussed “the challenges posed by fragile states around the world”.
The prime minister’s spokesman said Kerry did not ask about Britain’s possible future exit from the European Union but they did discuss a free trade agreement between the US and the EU and the possibility of taking the progress forward at the next G8 summit in Northern Ireland in June.
Cameron and Kerry discussed Syria and free trade but the Falklands did not come up. Kerry will visit nine countries, stopping off in Paris, Rome, Ankara, Cairo, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Doha.
The British government is pretty pleased that the US secretary of state decided that his first port of call on this his first major trip abroad should be Britain, he then goes on to European capitals…and it is in marked contrast with the last secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, who…rather pointedly went to Asia first, commentators said.
Though the Middle East peace process will be on the agenda when he visits Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Kerry will not visit Israel or the Palestinian Territories. However, Hague is hopeful his visit will herald a new enthusiasm for the peace process, commentators said. Hague would like to see a renewed effort from the US to engage the different parties around the negotiating table.
Kerry, former Massachusetts senator and 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, has spent almost three decades in the US Senate as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. (T/P011/E1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)